It’ll Never Be Perfect; Go For Excellence

It’ll Never Be Perfect; Go For Excellence

by Tracy Johnson

Program directors tend to be fixers. We listen for things that are wrong, and correct them in a never-ending pursuit of radio perfection. And while we should have high standards for everything on the air, this approach doesn’t work when coaching talent. Instead of focusing on perfection, place your emphasis on excellence.

I’ll never forget an email I received from an air personality in a medium market. She was trying so hard to find her big break. She had the talent, but just couldn’t get to the larger market. She told me:

I work hard seeking perfection in my show, but no matter what I do, I can’t seem to get my big break. It’s so frustrating. Can you help me out?

This was probably the result of air check sessions or coaching from the PD that focused on mechanics and format execution more than on building a personality brand that connects with the audience personally.

My advice is to change your way of thinking. Perfection can’t be achieved, but excellence can be pursued. Don’t worry about being perfect. In fact, the more you try to achieve perfection, the weaker the audience reaction.

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Practicing Excellence

Listeners relate when we accept our quirks and flaws. Personality radio is messy. How many times have you heard wildly successful shows in other markets and thought, “I just don’t get it. They aren’t that good. They’re making all these mistakes.”

Yeah, but listen through the imperfections that drive you crazy and you’ll likely discover a connection that comes from pursuing excellence.

Legendary basketball coach John Wooden never let his players celebrate the wins or be depressed over the losses. Instead, he emphasized excellence in the process of playing winning basketball. His philosophy was that the winning happened by focusing on excellence. This also kept his players from the stress that comes with the emotional roller coaster.

It’s Not A License to Be Sloppy

Don’t misunderstand this advice. It’s not a declaration that details aren’t important. Nor is it an excuse to be underprepared or deliberately sloppy. I’ve actually had talent tell me they try to mess up the mechanics on the show to get listener attention. Wait, what?

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Performing with poor mechanics or a weak execution of your show doesn’t make you relatable. But making your show technically perfect doesn’t automatically connect either.

Programmers: Keep fixing things that are wrong with your station and on your shows. We should always create the best station possible. And fixing those problems are important.

But keep it in perspective.

Help talent find their character voice. Help them be the best they can be, recognizing it’s never going to be perfect. And that’s okay.  Social Media guru Lori Lewis calls it being flawsome.

Focus on a relentless pursuit of excellence. It’s more rewarding and it’s achievable.

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Author: Tracy Johnson

Tracy Johnson specializes in radio talent coaching, radio consulting for programming and promotions and developing digital strategies for brands.

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